Physician perspectives: Kevin Campbell

Our latest physician perspective is the internationally-recognised cardiologist, Kevin Campbell – Hannah Blake interviews Kevin to find out his thoughts on social media and the US healthcare reform.

Our latest physician perspective is the internationally-recognised cardiologist, Kevin Campbell, who is regularly asked to provide his opinion on top healthcare issues to US news programmes such as WNCN, Fox News and CBS.

In this interview, Kevin shares with us his thoughts on the current US healthcare reform, the role in which he believes media has had in shaping the way healthcare news is reported today, well as his advice for physicians who are still wary about using social media.

Interview summary

HB: Hello Kevin, thanks for speaking with me today. So what inspired you to become a physician?

KC: Well that’s an interesting question, but I’d have to say it’s a love of science, and a fascination with the intricacies of the human body, and desire to give back to my fellow man and make sure that I can use the talents that I’ve been blessed with to help other people.

HB: You’re now an internationally recognised cardiologist, so when did you make the transition into media?

KC: Well it’s interesting, because about five years ago, the public relations people at my hospital would often need people to talk on the evening news about a local event or a new finding in a cardiovascular journal, and they found me, and I did several segments for them, and I seemed to be the guy they kept coming back to use. I enjoyed being in front of the camera and I felt like I was a natural there. Plus, I was able to provide real value to the viewers. I felt like although I can impact the 15 / 20 people that I may see in an office visit during a session in the office, I can impact millions of viewers in a four minute segment on a national stage. And so I think that was what really inspired me to move forward with it because I think that I can bring value, I can help patients, I can help educate other physicians, and also maybe tell them as patients some things that they may not know that may allow them to make lifestyle changes and prevent cardiovascular disease.


“…oftentimes, health news gets misconstrued in the media because they’re looking for the buzz.”


HB: How do you think the media has shaped the way healthcare news is reported over the last decade?

KC: That’s actually an interesting question – it’s another reason I am involved in the media now. I think that a lot of media outlets like sensationalism and like to tell stories that cause buzz and panic, for instance that there is an inflammable defibrillator lead, an inflammable device that’s recalled, etc… They love to start talking about the implications on Wall Street to the company that manufactured it. I think that oftentimes, health news gets misconstrued in the media because they’re looking for the buzz. I feel like my role is to be the voice of reason, by helping patients and viewers and other physicians understand what the problems are, what the real issues are and what the impact in the individual patient might be based on this health news. So I try to be more fair and balanced, and tell a story, rather than be a tabloid.

HB: As a regular speaker on WNCN and Fox News, what have been some of your most interesting healthcare discussions?

KC: One of my favourite pieces is a piece I did for Fox News where we addressed the issues of gender disparities in cardiovascular care. We know that men and women are not treated equally; in fact women are undertreated and underserved. I did a spot where we highlighted that fact, and then we actually had a patient agree to go on camera that I had identified as at risk for cardiovascular disease. We had intervened early and we actually prevented sudden cardiac death in that patient, and that was a very neat story – it told a very important story to the public and hopefully inspired women to take care of their own healthcare needs, engage in their own healthcare needs, and understand what their risks are.


“…prevention needs to be where we place an emphasis.”


HB: What are your thoughts on the concepts of healthcare reform in the US?

KC: I think that it is badly needed. I think that in the US we spend more money per capita on healthcare than any other industrialised nation in the world. I think there’s a lot of waste, a lot of focus on the endgame. In other words, instead of focusing on prevention and diagnostic tools that help us intervene early and prevent costly heart attacks, strokes and other deadly diseases, we would rather take care of it when it’s expensive on the end. I think prevention needs to be where we place an emphasis. I think that healthcare should be available to anyone who needs it regardless of their ability to pay for healthcare. Paying for this healthcare system in the US is going to be very difficult. I had the pleasure of studying a year at Oxford University in England, and had no insurance because I was over there as an exchange student, but when I was ill the doctors there in town took care of me and didn’t expect any payment.

HB: How has the rise in social media affected your way of working as a physician?

KC: I think social media is the new frontier for medicine and the practice of medicine in general. Social media allows us to be where our patients and other physicians are and where we really need to be. It allows us to educate, it allows us to work together to treat disease, it allows us to influence opinions. Social media such as Twitter and blogging allow us to get across ideas that may help save a patient’s life. It’s suggesting lifestyle modifications, it’s telling stories about new technologies. Social media is the way medicine is going to be practiced in the future.

There are some statistics that looked at the use of social media by physicians at different levels in training. For example, only around 20% of attending physicians, those who have been out of practice or been out of training for more than 10 years, actually used social media outlets, whereas almost 95% of medical students today are involved in social media. So the young doctors in training are going that way and I think medicine needs to wrap its arms around social media and shape the way it’s going to be used, and define how it can impact patients.


“…medicine needs to wrap its arms around social media and shape the way it’s going to be used…”


HB: What advice would you give to physicians who are still wary of using these social media sites?

KC: I think you have to embrace it. There are too many people that are afraid of social media and I think you need to just jump in with both feet. To get a start, it’s a good idea to talk to those in the field like myself who have had significant experience in social media, to get an idea where to go, and how to do it. But once you do get into social media you need to engage the public, engage patients, and engage other physicians. So before you start, you need to determine who your audience is going to be. My audience really is everyone, but do you want to focus just on patients or just on other physicians, or the medical community at large? Once you define your audience then you need to define what your mission is and what you hope to accomplish. Once you’ve defined what you’re going to accomplish, set a reasonable expectation of how often you’re going to tweet or blog so that you feed your blog, you feed your followers of good relevant timely information in a way that they expect it and in a way that they can use it.

HB: Finally, in your opinion, how could pharma and physicians work better together in order to improve patient care in the future?

KC: I think that communication is key. No matter what part of the medical industry you’re involved in, I think that when we communicate as pharma and as physicians, and as nurses, and as other allied health professionals, patient care has improved. I think we can communicate via social media, I think we can communicate and collaborate in the hospitals, and in the clinics, and I think that everyone needs to make sure that we’re providing efficient affordable care. That is the critical aspect to the collaboration between pharma and physicians.



About the interviewee:

Dr Kevin Campbell, MD, FACC is an internationally recognized Cardiologist who specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of heart rhythm disorders. Dr. Campbell is the Medical Expert for WNCN and appears weekly on the NBC17 morning news and also makes frequent appearances nationally on Fox News, CBS, and HLN where he discusses healthcare topics of interest. In addition, Dr Campbell is a highly sought after consultant for both industry partners and physician practices across the US and throughout the world.

Do you agree with the way healthcare news is reported by the media?